SpaceX rolled out its own satellite internet network, Starlink, to fund its ambitious Mars colonization goal. The Starlink network will consist of over 12,000 satellites beaming internet connection to customers globally, which will enable SpaceX to fund the development of a Starship fleet that will enable hundreds of people to safely travel to the Martian surface. To date, SpaceX operates approximately 1,385 internet-beaming Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit, ten of those operate in Polar orbit. The company already provides beta service to select customers and is already accepting service pre-orders via Starlink.com. Company officials state that ‘most of Earth’ will have broadband coverage before this year ends as SpaceX launches more satellites to orbit.
Starlink is actively beaming internet connection to users living in northern latitudes, situated in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, and New Zealand. Negocios, a European news outlet, announced this week that SpaceX plans to initiate Starlink service in the country of Portugal this Summer. SpaceX representatives had a conference with Portugal’s telecommunications regulatory agency, ANACOM, in which they discussed the Starlink broadband service. SpaceX Director of Global Satellite Government Affairs, Matt Botwin, told ANACOM's president, João Cadete de Matos, that SpaceX aims to begin providing Starlink service to Portugal by June and assured that the satellites already are capable of providing service to the region. Botwin also told ANACOM that Starlink will initially have the capacity to provide 50,000 users access and they expect to connect 16,000 users in Portugal before the end of 2021.
SpaceX broadband service fee is $99 USD per month, and the equipment necessary to connect to the satellites in orbit costs $499 USD. The company says the Starlink dish antenna features technology more advanced than what is currently onboard military fighter jets. SpaceX says that “during beta, users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mbps to 150Mbps [megabits per second] and latency from 20ms to 40ms [milliseconds] in most locations over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system.” Early Starlink users have reported high-speed internet over 200Mbps, some even reporting download speeds up to 400Mbps. SpaceX founder Elon Musk recently said that Starlink “Speed will double to ~300Mbps & latency will drop to ~20ms later this year.”
Featured Image Source: SpaceX